If you are an expecting mommy, it’s possible you’ve already heard about drinking castor oil to induce labor quicker. You’ll find loads of articles on the internet about this subject, but I found that very little give serious advice. Just be careful before taking any hasty decisions. Castor oil is a very strong laxative, and therefore an incorrect dosage could put you and your baby at risk (not to mention a bad case of diarrhea!)
It’s worth noting that there isn’t a whole lot of scientific articles surrounding this subject, though there are some pretty interesting studies, one which I will discuss more in depth later. On the contrary, there are plenty of mothers who can testify to using castor oil for inducing labor, stories of their experiences, and advice on whether or not expecting mothers with late-term babies should use it. From what I’ve researched, the advice given by mothers is about 50/50. I am thus writing my article to share me and Marianne’s (who is a mommy herself) recommendation for whether you should or should not drink castor oil to induce labor.
Why induce labor?
There are two main reasons why pregnant women may need to induce labor: medical and/or personal
If there is a risk for the mother or the baby’s health, it’s most likely your health care
provider will want to induce labor. A concrete example would be if the baby is nearing 2 weeks past due and your body hasn’t shown signs of commencing the natural birthing process. There are several other health reasons why your doctor would want you to induce labor such as infections, complications, big baby, etc. You can find more medical reasons for needing an induction here.
For personal reasons, some women choose to have an induction not related to medical/health reasons. Some examples might include family or work, though making this decision should always be taken with care and discussed with a health care professional first.
Castor oil & inducing labor
In addition to a range of other methods for inducing labor, it is said that the use of castor oil is encouraged to induce labor. But is castor oil an efficient method? Are there any dangers associated with using castor oil for inducing labor? Here is a sample of a report that may have you thinking twice.
For starters, here is a brief summary of a report by the “Australian and New Zealand Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology” who conducted a study including 612 pregnant women who were 40+weeks pregnant. The study aimed to identify whether castor oil was indeed an effective natural method for inducing labor, and whether or not it had harmful side effects on either the mother or the fetus.
Of the 612 pregnant women, 205 were given castor oil to induce labor while the remaining 407 were given nothing. The results show that there was not a huge difference in birthing times. Furthermore, the study concluded that castor oil was neither harmful nor helpful for inducing labor. You can read the details of the study here for more info.
It is worth noting that this study was done over 5 years ago. It is quite possible that there is new-found research regarding drinking castor oil to induce labor, but alas my research bears no fruit at this time.
Castor oil was, and still is, often used for people with IBS-C (constipation). Indeed, castor oil acts as a strong stimulant laxative. It is for this reason that castor oil is often associated with inducing labor because it can aid in stimulating uterine contractions. Ricinoleic acid contained in castor oil alters the intestinal lining’s mucus which results in loss of water and mineral salts. This leads to castor oil’s purgative and laxative results. One must be very careful in dosing how much castor oil to take for laxative or induction purposes. If you over-dose it, you can end up purging yourself to limitless emptiness, and in the case of pregnant women this can be dangerous for both mom and fetus.
Final thoughts: Drinking castor oil to induce labor
Castor oil is extremely powerful when ingested. There isn’t lots of studies that surround this subject, and the only serious ones that do show results that drinking castor oil to induce labor is neither effective nor ineffective. Advice given by mothers who have themselves experienced taking castor oil for inducing labor also shows mixed feelings towards it’s efficacy. Some say castor oil is the best natural remedy for inducing labor, while others remark that it had no special effect for inducing labor, except that it left them with a bad case of diarrhea.
Therefore, my conclusion is simple: drinking castor oil to induce labor should be used with care and lots of caution. I am not entirely convinced of castor oil’s efficacy to induce labor, however, I know (as in personally experienced) it is indeed a powerful laxative and with a few drops too much you could end up on the toilet every hour or so. Without medical advice or a go ahead from your health care provider, I would avoid drinking castor oil to induce labor, and actually I would even say avoid ingesting castor oil at all unless otherwise recommended by a health professional. In some cases, it has helped people with serious constipation, but I would nonetheless recommend using caution if you were to use castor oil as a laxative.
Don’t hesitate to let me know what you think about drinking castor oil to induce labor. Please do share your experiences or possible other studies you have read with the Castor Oil guide community by leaving a comment below!
There are PLENTY of benefits of castor oil other than using it for labor/laxative purposes. See them now: